The Fat of the Land

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The Fat of the Land
Studio album by The Prodigy
Released 30 June 1997 (1997-06-30)
Recorded 1996–1997, Earthbound Central
Genre Big beat, electronica, alternative rock, breakbeat, alternative dance, industrial rock, synthpunk, rave
Length 56:24
Language English
Label XL (UK)
Maverick (US)
Producer Liam Howlett
The Prodigy chronology
Voodoo People
(1995)
The Fat of the Land
(1997)
The Dirtchamber Sessions Volume One
(1999)
Singles from The Fat of the Land
  1. "Firestarter"
    Released: 18 March 1996 (1996-03-18)
  2. "Breathe"
    Released: 11 November 1996 (1996-11-11)
  3. "Smack My Bitch Up"
    Released: 24 November 1997 (1997-11-24)

The Fat of the Land is the third studio album by British electronic music group The Prodigy. The album was released by XL Recordings on 30 June 1997 and on 1 July 1997 in the United States by Maverick Records. The album title comes from the old English phrase 'living off the fat of the land', which means living well or being wealthy.[1] The album has sold over 10 million copies worldwide as of 2012.[2][3] While Liam Howlett is generally responsible for the compositions and Maxim Reality is featured on two tracks, this is the first record to include contribution by Keith Flint who provides vocals on four of the songs.

Composition[edit]

Samples are used on a majority of tracks on the album (see the Samples section for more details). Matt Cameron of Soundgarden and later Pearl Jam, who is falsely credited as "Mark" in the liner notes, is also understood to have contributed samples to the album, though it is not clear where.[4]

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars[5]
Entertainment Weekly (B)[6]
Robert Christgau (1-star Honorable Mention)[7]
Pitchfork Media (7.9/10)[8]
Q 5/5 stars[9]
Rolling Stone 3.5/5 stars[10]
Music Emissions 4.5/5 stars[11]
Sputnikmusic 5/5 stars[12]
Spin 7/10 stars[13]
BBC Music (very favourable)[14]

The Fat of the Land has received critical acclaim. The album debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200 chart.[15] The album has since gone double platinum, selling over 2 million copies in the US[16] In 1999, the album entered the Guinness World Records as the fastest-selling UK album and was also nominated for a Grammy Award.[17]

It has been featured in a number of music publication lists:

  • In 1998, Q magazine readers voted The Fat of the Land the ninth greatest album of all time.
  • In 2000 Q placed it at number 47 in its list of the 100 Greatest British Albums Ever.[citation needed] It has also been ranked number 43 in Q's "Best 50 Albums of Q's Lifetime" list,[18] and was included in their "90 Best Albums of the 1990s"[19] and "50 Best Albums of 1997" lists.[20]
  • Rolling Stone included in their "Essential Recordings of the 90s" list.[21]
  • Spin ranked it number 20 on their list of the "Top 20 Albums of the Year [1997]" list.[22]
  • Melody Maker ranked it number 13 on their list of "Albums of the Year" for 1997[23] and number 29 in their 1997 Pazz & Jop Critics' Poll.[24]
  • NME ranked it number 17 in their 1997 Critics' Poll.[25]

The album is included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. The album was also nominated for the 1997 Mercury Music Prize.[citation needed]

In 2004, KISS co-founder Gene Simmons covered "Firestarter" on his second solo album, Asshole. "Firestarter" was also covered by Sepultura on their album Kairos, and by Jimmy Eat World on their Firestarter (EP).

The album also caused some controversy. The National Organization for Women objected to the seeming misogyny of "Smack My Bitch Up", though the band maintains that its true interpretation is "doing anything intensely".[26]

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Smack My Bitch Up" (feat. M. Smith, C. Miller, K. Thornton, and T. Randolph of Ultramagnetic MCs) Liam Howlett 5:42
2. "Breathe"   Howlett, Keith Flint, Maxim Reality 5:35
3. "Diesel Power" (feat. Kool Keith) Howlett, Kool Keith 4:17
4. "Funky Shit"   Howlett 5:16
5. "Serial Thrilla"   Howlett, Flint, Len Arran, Skin 5:11
6. "Mindfields"   Howlett, Maxim Reality 5:40
7. "Narayan"   Howlett, Crispian Mills 9:05
8. "Firestarter"   Howlett, Flint, T. Horn, A. Dudley, J. Jeczalik, P. Morley, and G. Langan of Art of Noise, Kim Deal 4:40
9. "Climbatize"   Howlett 6:38
10. "Fuel My Fire (L7 cover, from Hungry for Stink)"   Donita Sparks, Walsh, James, and Knight of Cosmic Psychos 4:19

Personnel[edit]

The Prodigy
Additional musicians
Other personnel
  • Christian Ammann – photography
  • JAKe – illustrations
  • Alex Jenkins – art direction, design, photography
  • Neil McLellan – engineer
  • Pat Pope – photography
  • Alex Scaglia – photography
  • Lou Smith – photography
  • Terry Whittaker – photography
  • Konrad Wothe – photography
  • Mike Champion – management

Samples[edit]

  • The main vocal sample from "Smack My Bitch Up" is taken from "Give the Drummer Some" by Ultramagnetic MCs. Thus, The Prodigy invited group member Kool Keith, who raps the portion sampled by the Prodigy in the original track, to do the lyrics and vocals for another track, "Diesel Power". The track also features a looped sample of the bassline and drums from the beginning of "In Memory Of" by jazz musician Randy Weston and a sped-up riff from "Funky Man" by Kool and the Gang; both of these samples remain uncredited on the album. A heavily manipulated sample from Bulls On Parade by Rage Against the Machine is used in the breakdown.
  • "Breathe" samples sound effects from the Wu-Tang Clan's music video for their single "Da Mystery of Chessboxin'".
  • Three credited samples are present on "Funky Shit": the main vocal sample which gives the song its title is sampled from "Root Down" by the Beastie Boys, the horn riff that appears throughout the song is sampled from "Theme from "S.W.A.T."" by Rhythm Heritage, and the "Break!" vocal is sampled from "2, 3, Break" by American hip hop duo the B–Boys.
  • "Serial Thrilla" features a sample of a riff from "Selling Jesus" by Skunk Anansie.
  • "Climbatize" samples a horn riff from "The Horn Track" by Egyptian Empire, the stage name of electronic musician Tim Taylor. The main drum loop was sampled from "Air Drums from Outer Bongolia" by The Jedi Knights; Liam Howlett sampled the drums without the group's permission, and The Jedi Knights threatened to sue The Prodigy. However, Howlett already knew that The Jedi Knights themselves had sampled the drums from an older track entitled "Bongolia" by Incredible Bongo Band without permission; XL Recordings, the Prodigy's record label, bought the rights to the Incredible Bongo Band track and threatened to sue The Jedi Knights. The media coverage cornered around the event attracted film producer George Lucas, who sued The Jedi Knights for taking their stage name from the Star Wars term "Jedi Knight", which Lucas created.[28]
  • "Firestarter" samples a guitar riff from "SOS" by The Breeders, and the "Hey!" vocal from "Close (To the Edit)" by Art of Noise (the vocal was also previously used by the band in "Full Throttle" on Music for the Jilted Generation). The drums on the song are sampled from a track on the Time + Space Recordings drum recording album Jungle Warfare, Vol. 1; another Time + Space Recordings album track was sampled on The Prodigy's previous single, "One Love".
  • "Fuel My Fire" features guitar sounds and feedback effects by Gizz Butt taken from an unreleased remix by Kris Needs of an earlier version of the same song. Recorded shortly after the Autumn UK tour of 1996.

Sales chart positions[edit]

Album[edit]

Chart (1997) Peak
position
UK Albums (OCC)[29] 1
Australian ARIA Albums Chart 1[30]
Canadian Albums Chart 1[15]
Finnish Charts 1[31]
Swedish Albums top 60 1[30]
US Billboard 200 1[15]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Sales/shipments
Australia (ARIA)[32] 2× Platinum 140,000^
Austria (IFPI Austria)[33] Gold 25,000x
Canada (Music Canada)[34] 3× Platinum 300,000^
Finland (Musiikkituottajat)[35] Platinum 42,426[35]
France (SNEP)[36] 2× Gold 200,000*
Germany (BVMI)[37] Gold 250,000^
Italy (FIMI)[38] Gold 50,000*
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[39] Gold 25,000x
Sweden (GLF)[40] Platinum 80,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[41] 3× Platinum 900,000^
United States (RIAA)[42] 2× Platinum 2,000,000^
Summaries
Europe (IFPI)[43] 2× Platinum 2,000,000*

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
xunspecified figures based on certification alone

Singles[edit]

Year Song Chart Peak
position
1996 "Firestarter" UK Singles Chart 1[44]
1996 "Breathe" UK Singles Chart 1[44]
1996 "Firestarter" Australian ARIA Singles Chart 22[45]
1996 "Breathe" Australian ARIA Singles Chart 2[45]
1997 "Smack My Bitch Up" UK Singles Chart 8[44]
1997 "Smack My Bitch Up" Australian ARIA Singles Chart 41[45]
1997 "Smack My Bitch Up" Canadian Singles Chart 12[46]
1997 "Firestarter" US Billboard Hot 100 30[46]
1997 "Firestarter" US Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales 11[46]
1997 "Firestarter" US Modern Rock Tracks 24[46]
1997 "Breathe" US Modern Rock Tracks 18[46]
1997 "Breathe" Canadian Singles Chart 65[47]
1997 "Smack My Bitch Up" US Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales 19[46]
1998 "Smack My Bitch Up" US Billboard Hot 100 89[46]

Appearances in other media[edit]

  • "Mindfields" is the seventh track on the soundtrack of the film The Matrix. In the movie itself, it appears in the club scene where Neo meets Trinity.
  • "Smack My Bitch Up" has appeared in films Charlie's Angels, Scary Movie 2 and Closer.
  • Crispian Mills, who contributed lyrically to the track "Narayan", later adapted "Narayan" and elements of "Climbatize" for his own band's 2007 album, Strangefolk as "Song of Love/Narayana".
  • "Climbatize" appeared in the pilot of the TV show "Harsh Realm".
  • "Funky Shit" was used during the ending credits of the film "Event Horizon (film)".
  • Both "Firestarter" and "Breathe" have appeared in the film "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle."
  • An instrumental version of "Firestarter" appears in video game "Wipeout 2097"
  • A vocal version of the Japanese bonus track "No man army" called "One man army" is featured in the movie "Spawn" and its soundtrack respectively.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Living off the fat of the land". phrases.org.uk. Retrieved 11 September 2009. 
  2. ^ "The Prodigy to release 15th anniversary edition of 'The Fat of the Land' | News". Nme.Com. 19 October 2012. Retrieved 10 December 2012. 
  3. ^ http://bloody-disgusting.com/news/3198375/prodigys-the-fat-of-the-land-to-get-15th-anniversary-rerelease/
  4. ^ News – Articles – 1427521 – 19970320
  5. ^ Stephen Thomas Erlewine. "The Fat of the Land". Allmusic. Retrieved 25 January 2012. 
  6. ^ David Browne (11 July 1997). "The Fat of the Land (1997)". Entertainment Weekly (387). Retrieved 12 September 2011. 
  7. ^ "CG: The Prodigy". Robert Christgau. Retrieved 10 December 2012. 
  8. ^ "Internet Archive Wayback Machine". Web.archive.org. 16 February 2009. Retrieved 10 December 2012. 
  9. ^ Q. June 1997. 
  10. ^ Rolling Stone: 82. 13 May 1999. 
  11. ^ "The Prodigy – The Fat of the Land Review from". Music Emissions. Retrieved 10 December 2012. 
  12. ^ "The Prodigy – The Fat of the Land (staff review)". Sputnikmusic. 30 June 1997. Retrieved 10 December 2012. 
  13. ^ Spin: 155. September 1997. 
  14. ^ Louis Pattison (14 November 2008). "The Prodigy Fat of the Land Review". bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 25 January 2012. 
  15. ^ a b c "The Prodigy". Allmusic. Retrieved 12 September 2011. 
  16. ^ RIAA Certifications – Search 'Prodigy'
  17. ^ "Shahin Badar". shahinbadar.com. Retrieved 12 September 2011. 
  18. ^ Q (October 2001): 46. 
  19. ^ Q (December 1999): 92. 
  20. ^ Q (January 1998): 114. 
  21. ^ Rolling Stone: 82. 13 May 1999. 
  22. ^ Spin (January 1998): 87. 
  23. ^ Melody Maker (20 December 1997): 66–67. 
  24. ^ Village Voice. 24 February 1998. 
  25. ^ NME (20 December 1997): 78–79. 
  26. ^ "Prodigy". Rock on the Net. Retrieved 12 September 2011. 
  27. ^ only CD released from Sony Music Entertainment Japan
  28. ^ Kieran Grant. "Decline of the Jedi Knights". jam.canoe.ca. Retrieved 12 September 2011. 
  29. ^ July 1997 "12 July 1997 Top 40 Official UK Albums Archive | Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. The Official Charts Company.
  30. ^ a b The Fat of the Land – Charting
  31. ^ Finland's Official List – ylex.yle.fi[dead link][dead link]
  32. ^ "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 1997 Albums". Australian Recording Industry Association. 
  33. ^ "Austrian album certifications – Prodigy – The Fat of the Land" (in German). IFPI Austria.  Enter Prodigy in the field Interpret. Enter The Fat of the Land in the field Titel. Select album in the field Format. Click Suchen
  34. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Prodigy – The Fat of the Land". Music Canada. 
  35. ^ a b The first web page presents the sales figures, the second presents the certification limits:
  36. ^ "French album certifications – Prodigy – The Fat of the Land" (in French). Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique. 
  37. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (Prodigy; 'The Fat of the Land')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. 
  38. ^ "Rock: Già disco d'oro l'album dei Prodigy" (in Italian). Adnkronos. 8 July 1997. Retrieved 10 July 2012. 
  39. ^ "The Official Swiss Charts and Music Community: Awards (Prodigy; 'The Fat of the Land')". Hung Medien. 
  40. ^ "Guld- och Platinacertifikat − År 1987−1998" (PDF) (in Swedish). IFPI Sweden. 
  41. ^ "British album certifications – Prodigy – The Fat of the Land". British Phonographic Industry.  Enter The Fat of the Land in the field Search. Select Title in the field Search by. Select album in the field By Format. Click Go
  42. ^ "American album certifications – Prodigy – The Fat of the Land". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH
  43. ^ "IFPI Platinum Europe Awards – 1997". International Federation of the Phonographic Industry. 
  44. ^ a b c UK Charts – Search 'Prodigy'
  45. ^ a b c "The Prodigy". australian-charts.com. Retrieved 12 September 2011. 
  46. ^ a b c d e f g "The Prodigy". Allmusic. Retrieved 12 September 2011. 
  47. ^ [1]
Preceded by
Spice by Spice Girls
Billboard 200 number-one album
19–26 July 1997
Succeeded by
Men in Black: The Album by various artists
Preceded by
OK Computer by Radiohead
UK number one album
12 July – 22 August 1997
Succeeded by
White on Blonde by Texas
Preceded by
Album of the Year by Faith No More
Australian ARIA Albums Chart number-one album
13–19 July 1997
Succeeded by
Middle of Nowhere by Hanson